Vacation Report, India: Airport Lounges

Vacation Report, India: The Arrival

Vacation Report, India: Poetree Sarovar Portico

Vacation Report, India: Periyar National Park

Vacation Report, India: Grand Hyatt Mumbai

Vacation Report, India: Airport Lounges

Vacation Report, India: Departure

Cochin International Airport

Cochin International Airport (COK) is the fourth busiest international airport in India and the seventh busiest in India, overall. Despite this  volume of traffic, on August 18th 2015, it became a fully solar powered airport. In fact, it is the first of its kind in the world.

Currently there are two terminals (T1: International, and T2: Domestic), with a third terminal under construction to take over international traffic, leaving the current international terminal to handle domestic traffic. The existing domestic terminal would then be for private planes only.

To give you an idea of the destination served by COK, I did a quick search on Google Flights to identify non-stop destinations. In addition to various location within India, there are flights to Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, various cities on the Arabian Peninsula, and Malé.

Non-Stop Flights

Both domestic and international terminals have lounges available to PriorityPass members. While both lounges are named “Earth Lounge”, they offer different amenities. You can see the details of each lounge on the PriorityPass website, above.

International Terminal Lounge

Known as the Earth Lounge and available to everyone with a Priority Pass membership, or traveling Business Class, the lounge in the international terminal at COK is found on the third floor (level ‘2’) of the airport. It offers expansive views of the apron, which makes for some excellent plane watching! There is a buffet that is stocked with a decent spread of Indian goodies, as well as a bar.

Entering the lounge
Lots of seating!
Jet Airways B738
Saudi Arabian A330
Air India Express

Doha – Hamad International Airport

Though I might not agree with all the social policies of Qatar, the Doha airport was by far the safest I have felt throughout my entire vacation. The Hamad International Airport is positioned for expansion and has received many awards over the years. In fact, it is currently rated as having the best staff service in the Middle East and being the best airport in the Middle East. Any interaction with the staff will immediately make it clear why they have consistently won in these categories. They are spectacular in these regards.

In addition to having a truly world-class airport, the surrounding areas of Doha are being developed quite nicely. Driving from the hotel to the airport, we noticed that a large amount of plants were being planted. Though this serves multiple purposes, the one that has the most noticeable impact is that it reduces the dust in the air. In fact, within the next 10 years it shouldn’t be surprising to see this turn into a tourist destination.

Al Mujra Business Class Lounge

Since we weren’t flying Qatar airways from Doha to London-Heathrow, the lounges that were available to us were the Al Mujra Business Class Lounge or those available from Priority Pass. We opted for the former and we were not disappointed! The lounge itself is very spacious and offers ample seating and outlets to charge your devices. There are also many personal flight kiosks so you can remain up to date on your own departure time.

Lounge Seating
Personal flight-tracking


As we were departing on Virgin Atlantic flight 107, we made our way to Terminal 3. Thanks to the miles available and given the duration of the flight, I had booked Upper Class tickets. This allowed us entry to the Upper Class wing of Terminal 3, complete with private security lines as well as access to the expansive Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.

Upper Class Wing Entry

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse

The Clubhouse itself is located beyond the shopping in Terminal 3, and is a fair distance from most of the gates served by Virgin Atlantic and Delta. Upon entry we were informed that in addition to a concierge, there was a deli, bar, spa and hair salon, and that we would be waited upon as soon as we were seated. Since this was our first time in a Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, we weren’t really sure what to expect, but the treatment blew us away! If you ever have the opportunity to visit a Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, you will not be disappointed.

Seating across from the deli
The bar and many leather couches
Seating across from the concierge
A full map of the facilities

As promised, as soon as we were seated, we were greeted by a very friendly waitress who took our orders for a quick breakfast. I opted for an Egg Royale, pictured below, and also poked about the deli. For those curious, the full menu can be found below as well.

Egg Royale!
Full Menu

Airport Information: Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Physical Layout

The Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta is the busiest in the world when we look at sheer volume of people, followed by Beijing, Tokyo-Haneda, and London Heathrow. Because of that, it is no surprise that the designers have gone to great lengths to ensure that the layout can both handle current volumes as well as offer room for expansion (as seen recently with the addition of Concourse F).




The airport itself is laid out in a series of parallel concourses that are labeled from A to F, with a Terminal concourse (“T”) preceding it. Domestic baggage claim is located in concourse T, while international baggage claim is found in concourse F. A few years ago, before the construction of concourse F, the international baggage claim was located in terminal E. This is known to lead to some confusion as not all the signs have been replaced – be careful!

Airlines and Routes

As this is the busiest airport in the world, it should also not come as a surprise that it is serviced by a large number of airlines from various alliances: from American to United and Southwest. It is, of course, the home for Delta, and it is not uncommon to see AirFrance and KoreanAir flights arrive and depart from Atlanta.

The routing options are similarly plentiful with options throughout Europe, the Pacific Rim, China, large portions of Africa, as well as Central and South America.


At least one SkyClub can be found in each concourse at ATL, with some having two! Keep in mind that not all SkyClubs are created equal, however, with one of the two in a given terminal being much better than the other. The clubs at A17 and B23 are personal favorites, for example. They are roomy and the staff is always helpful.

In addition to the SkyClub options, you can find The Club in concourse F and an American Airline’s Admiral’s Club in concourse T. Access to The Club is available to members of LoungeClub, Priority Pass, or Diner’s Club International. Priority Pass is offered to all American Express Platinum and Citi Prestige cardholders, so it is the most common method of entry. My favorite thing about this lounge is that you are able to get Glenlivet 12 complimentary! Can’t beat free!


Two points of note for travel through Atlanta: they are trying a new boarding process with three parallel lanes which seems to be helping, and an annoyances were expressed with the TSA by the airport itself given absurd wait times.

Be sure to give yourself a little extra while the TSA tries to allocate additional man-power to handle the passenger volume (they certainly have the lanes…) when departing from Atlanta! This isn’t really a concern for passing through, unless you are transferring from an international flight to a domestic one.

New Boarding Process
New Boarding Process

Airport Information: Detroit Metropolitan Airport

Last week, between work and personal travel, I was bouncing between four airports – DTW, ATL, RDU, and BOS. Thanks to that, I am able to continue my series on airport information! Hopefully what I have to offer will be of some benefit to y’all.


DTW from the sky
DTW from the sky

Though difficult to tell from the picture above, the Detroit Metropolitan Airport is split into two completely independent structures: the North Terminal and the McNamara Terminal. The newer structure, the McNamara Terminal, handles Air France, Delta, and other SkyTeam code-shares (as well as the only Virgin Atlantic flight for DTW), while the older terminal handles all other airlines.

The McNamara Terminal is further divided into three concourses: A, B, and C. The larger planes arrive and depart from the A concourse while B and C handle regional jet traffic.

Concourse A (right), B and C (on the left)
Concourse A (right), B and C (on the left)


There are four SkyClubs located in the McNamara Terminal: three within the A concourse alone, with the fourth between B and C. In the North terminal the only option is the Lufthansa club.


As a major international hub, DTW provides the opportunity to visit quite a few locations on a wide variety of planes. It is one of the few locations in the US where you can still fly a Delta 747-400, for example! Similarly, you can fly on Royal Jordanian’s 787 Dreamliner from the North Terminal.

The list of direct flights is quite large but some highlights include: Paris, Seoul, Tokyo, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Shanghai, and Beijing!

744 at DTW
744 at DTW


Airport Information: Raleigh-Durham International Airport

As the start a series on various airports from the viewpoint of a traveler (frequent or otherwise), it felt the natural to begin with my local airport: Raleigh-Durham International Airport, RDU.

RDU is quite a gem given its physical location. As the airport for the Research Triangle region, it has a great deal of demand placed upon it, and as a result has some very interesting routes. For example, you can take direct flights to London, Toronto, Los Angeles, and soon to Paris!

There is also very nice availability of choices when it comes to airlines. The list below is a small cross-section of the carriers that travel to and from RDU:

  • Alaska
  • American
  • Delta
  • JetBlue
  • Southwest
  • United

As I mentioned earlier, there are quite a few options when it comes to direct flights that use Raleigh as a origin or destination. A full list is available here, but a few interesting options are listed below:

  • London Heathrow
  • Cancun
  • Salt Lake City (starting March 2016)
  • Paris Charles De Gaulle (starting May 2016)
  • Toronto Pearson
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco

As with many airports in the United States, RDU offers standard priority security and support services for the “big three” carriers. Additionally, TSA PreCheck is also available as an option. The real surprise is the presence of Global Entry! Global Entry makes for a much easier return from some of the locations that you can reach from Raleigh, and I see it becoming more of a prominent feature as additional routes are added.

There are both a SkyClub and Admiral’s Club located in Terminal 2 – the terminal that houses all airlines other than Southwest. Located immediately after security, it makes it easy to rest a little before or after a flight. Just keep in mind that alcohol isn’t available before noon on Sundays!

What about you? Have a favorite airport or one I should cover?